Celebrating our Union Made City By Vincent Alvarez
Each year on Labor Day, we pause to celebrate the contributions of working New Yorkers in building and growing our national and local economy. On the Saturday after Labor Day, working men and women from all over the area take to Manhattan’s Fifth Ave. to march in the Annual Labor Day Parade. They celebrate their training, hard work, and dedication to their crafts. They also celebrate the wages, benefits, and job security that are the trademarks of union membership. This year will be no different.
Marching with us this year as our Grand Marshal is International Union of Operating Engineers General President James Callahan. District Council 37 AFSCME Executive Director Henry Garrido will march as our 2016 Parade Chair. These men have proven to be true advocates on behalf of their members, and though the jobs they represent are as varied and diverse as our City’s labor movement, they all play an integral role in supporting our union made city.
On the surface, the concept of “union made” seems to only apply to buildings and clothing. Digging a little deeper, though, we can see that anything created or gained through quality union labor is, in fact, union made. From our skyscrapers, to our subway and healthcare systems, union labor built our city, and we work hard day in and day out to maintain it.
Don’t just take my word for it. The NYC Central Labor Council has heard from union members about what it means to be “union made.” The responses have varied from “protection of our workplace conditions,” to “the worker's right to bargain,” to “a secure retirement.” Working men and women recognize the union difference.
So as Labor Day and the September 10th Labor Day Parade approach, I ask you to take a moment to think about the contributions of unions and organized labor in making and keeping NYC a world class city. In fact, dig a little deeper and consider how the conditions at your own workplace are better as the result of workers having a voice. Workers are always stronger when they are able to stand together to fight for what they deserve. The freedom workers have through a secure voice at work is, and will always be union made.
Vincent Alvarez is President of the New York City Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO, which is comprised of 300 unions, representing 1.3 million workers in the New York City region.